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The Eleventh Hour

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  9,088 ratings  ·  412 reviews
When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates in style by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it's up to the reader to piece them together and decide whodunit ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published 1993 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1988)
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WhiteHeather Older elementary aged children will really enjoy solving the puzzles. I'd say third or fourth grade and up. Younger kids will still like the illustrat…moreOlder elementary aged children will really enjoy solving the puzzles. I'd say third or fourth grade and up. Younger kids will still like the illustrations and story, but they'll probably have a hard time figuring out most of the clues in it, which may be frustrating for them.(less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,088 ratings  ·  412 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Don your favorite costume and join Horace the elephant in celebration of his eleventh birthday. Bring your magnifying glass and your suspicion too, for a mystery awaits in The Eleventh Hour.

Graeme Base's curious tale of a birthday party gone awry is a visual treat. Eleven animals arrive for Horace's party, all bedecked in costume:

The Pig came as an Admiral, the Zebra as a Punk.
The Rhino was an Astronaut, his spacesuit made of junk.
The Swan arrived as Princess Pure, a most enchanting sight.
Blown Away! FANTASTIC! The whole family got in on this mystery. It really is a mystery too. I thought it was simply a story and it is and there is a mystery. The answer is sealed at the back of the book and we have not broken the seal yet to see the culprit. I didn't have time to go through the book to see who did it. There are clues, supposedly hidden on each page so it takes time. The kids are going to scour the pages today and see if they can figure it out. Even their parents are getting invo ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In their dotage the Offspring will still be talking about their crazy mom having a signed first of this that she would read to them, but wouldn't let them touch until they washed their hands. ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
One of the most amazing illustrations I've ever seen in children's books. Can't believe I've never heard of Base before now. The pictures are so detailed and there are hundreds of things going on in them, you could just look for hours. In this case, there's a mystery to be solved and some really fun clues to be looking for in the pictures. Not easy enough of a mystery for a small child, but just tough enough for my 1st grader, and it kept me interested too! The clues are hidden in the pictures a ...more
Adam Floridia
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
The other day, my son brought this home from my parents' house. I remembered it as one of my favorite children's books--and it didn't disappoint. This who-dunnit mystery is teeming with hidden puzzles, many of which I couldn't even solve today (morse code, musical notes, and more). I had so much fun re-"reading" (more like "puzzling over") this that I ordered seven more of Base's books--ostensibly for my kids. ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I usually don't review picture books, but this is the most author-indulgent thing I've ever read.

Every page is indeed covered with challenging codes and clues, but 98% of them are either useless or actively misleading. Some of them are just inside jokes the author wanted to include. A lot of them literally say "red herring." That doesn't motivate me to find more clues.

Finding the clues is seriously the least efficient way you can solve this mystery. I did figure out who did it, but I didn't use
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Here is a story about Horace's (an elephant) eleventh birthday party, and apparently there's a mystery to solve! The mystery isn't revealed until near the end, and the book definitely requires that you look back through it to solve the mystery.

Overall, mystery hunting aside, I enjoyed this book, the fun characters, and the whimsical, jam-packed illustrations! For a rhyming book, the rhymes were really pretty good! I didn't find myself tripping over the rhythm or words hardly at all!

For the mys
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I did a program based in it for tweens last year and it was amazing (albeit sparsely attended, but it's a tween program so any attendance is great!). Any time any person expresses any interest in puzzles (coworkers, kids, parents, strangers) I leap up and offer them this book. I love introducing kids to anagrams and pigpen ciphers, because I distinctly remember my elementary school library helping me as I pored over this book as a weird 5th grader. I had so much fun! ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
The story was not particularly interesting or satisfying, but of course the story isn't really the point of this book. The point is all the puzzles and "clues" hidden in the pictures. Unfortunately, in the effort to put "oh, so many!" things to find in the pictures, really very few (or even none) of them must be solved to figure out the mystery. And many of the hidden messages actually say "red herring" or don't say that but don't provide much helpful information anyway (Watch the clocks! once m ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorite books as an older child - my sisters and I poured over this book for weeks.
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a book! I had read this before, but that time I didn't make the effort to look for clues, solve the mystery, or even read the solution. I always planned to come back and spend more time with this book, so I'm glad I finally did! This time I read the book, looked for clues, deciphered many of the hidden messages, and solved the mystery before ever reading through the solution pages! And wow, the solution pages pointed out many clues I hadn't even noticed. Although some of those clues ar ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ok this may be the coolest kids book ever, if you have a smart kid who likes puzzles or codes. It took us two or three HOURS to solve the book. It was so exciting that we did it in one sitting, working like mad. It is that absorbing. He did solve it, but we had to resort to a hint off the internet to find the swan's name. I'd say a smart 8 year old and up can do it, maybe with some help. Besides being super fun, the book is also lovely. My kid is now enjoying looking back at the amazing illustra ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a gift for my then, twenty-year old daughter. She loved it. One of her favorites.

Who says all kids books have to be read to, or bought for kids? :D
Kelly Eggen
Apr 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Horace the Elephant is planning a spectacular party for his 11th birthday. He plans all sorts of games and events, such as pool, chess, and tennis. The most important part of the party, however, is the giant feast that he promises to feed his guests on the 11th hour. Once the time to feast arrives, all of the food is gone! Every guest denies stealing the food, but someone has to be lying. Who could commit such an atrocious act?

This book is unnecessarily long, meaning that about half of the pages
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
In this "curious mystery" by Graeme Base, author of Animalia,
Horace Elephant invites 11 friends to his eleventh birthday party. After a great deal of elaborate preparation, games, and sport, the awesome feast prepared by Horace is stolen! Which guest was responsible for this heinous crime? The brilliantly embedded clues and breathtaking illustrations contribute to the clever rhyming tale in this modern masterpiece.

No elementary school classroom or personal library is complete without The Elevent
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children
Recommended to Megan by: Judy
My mom bought this book for my sisters and I after the illustrations caught her eye in a local bookstore. She brought it home, and we had a lot of fun reading it together, pouring over the beautiful illustrations, and trying to decipher the mystery.

When Horace the elephant turns 11 he throws himself an elaborate birthday party, and invites all of his other animal friends to join in the fun. There are games, costumes, and of course an elaborate feast that Horace himself had prepared. Unfortunatel
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a good mystery story for older young kids. My niece and I read it together, and we enjoyed the story. I pre-read the book before I read it with her, and I admit, I had to "cheat" and look at the key in the back of the book to discover the answer to the mystery. I don't think that the clues presented themselves very readily, and that's a good thing in a mystery. If this were an adult mystery, I'd think it was great! In a *children's* mystery story, however, maybe a few *slightly* more obv ...more
Jessica Rawden
This book is great for kids who are into mysteries, clues, and decoding. Even better, this is great for kids who are into awesome illustrations. Even better, even better, this poem features some pretty sweetly rhyming pages. I was shocked. I owned Animalia as a kid, but didn't realize Graeme Base could be a pretty good writer! Secret aside for parents: If your child is not a decoder, figure out the mystery ahead of time, or look it up on the Internet. Luckily, the "help" pages are now taped toge ...more
Juli Anna
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
My husband grew up with this book and, although I loved Animalia as a kid, this book was not in my collection. The two of us spent a couple of nights over the Thanksgiving break working out this mystery--what a fun way to pass an evening! The mystery here is simple enough for an older child to figure out with a little parental guidance, but the clues in code are quite difficult. There are so many beautiful and funny details hidden in the illustrations, and the whole concept is extremely well car ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Older Picture-Book Readers Who Enjoy Puzzles
Australian picture-book author/artist Graeme Base delivers a masterpiece with The Eleventh Hour, one sure to provide curious young children with hours of entertainment! The rhyming text tells the tale of Horace the elephant, who invites ten guests to celebrate his eleventh birthday with him. Everything from the feast to the games is meticulously planned, but when it comes time to eat, the animal companions are shocked to discover that someone has stolen the sumptuous banquet prepared for them. W ...more
Maelin Long
The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base is a wonderful mystery picture book for children. When Horace, the elephant turns eleven he plans a grand affair. Friends are invited, party games are chosen and a beautiful birthday feast is made. The day of the party arrives and all of his friends show up in their best costumes. Throughout the day, they all play the different games waiting for the eleventh hour when they can finally devour the feast. To their horror, the eleventh hour comes and the feast is gon ...more
Ruby Tovar
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rdg-291
I actually read this book for the first time while completing the genre presentation with my group. I have to say, that I was really surprised. When I initially flipped through it, I saw all the colorful illustrations and the all the busy pages and was really intrigued. Finding a picture book in the mystery genre is truly difficult, and I'm really impressed with all the details throughout the book as well as the diverse backgrounds and style employed. I really liked how at the end, it turns out ...more
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I fondly remember the hours of fun I had figuring out the puzzles in this book with my mother when I was in 5th grade or so. Like all of Graeme Base's books, the illustrations in this story are superb. They are full of amazing details that can't all be noticed in just one read through. The story is fun, with a clever rhyme scheme. The puzzles are challenging and it will take a lot of time even for very clever children to figure them out and they may need some help from a friendly adult! I rememb ...more
Mary Pease
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The Eleventh Hour" by Graeme Base is about an elephant named Horace. Horace is having an extravagant birthday party. He invites all of his friends and each one comes in a costume. Throughout the story they play games. There's a feast, but towards the end the food disappears! Horace isn't saddened though because he reappears with sandwiches and his humungo surprise birthday cake.
The genre of this text is mystery. The lexile number is 1070. The author has won numerous awards: Children's Book C
Becky B
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those tired of silly rhyming books, All ages, Mystery lovers
A combination mystery and picture book in rhyme. It is extremely rare to find such a skilled and creative illustrator/poet that makes children's books. I remember working on solving all the different puzzles hidden in this book with my siblings when we were young. It took us quite a while, but we felt very accomplished when we figured them out. ...more
Melissa Coyle
Wonderful rhyming, rhythm, and story! Superb artwork! A story filled with merriment and mystery. How did I miss this one for my children. This book will sure to spark the brain cells of any youngster.
Cara Hinton
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very clever book that will entertain for hours. Illustrations are magical with hidden clues, and drawings. So much in this little book that could absorb (especially a child) for very long periods of time.
Megan Johnson
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the cutest little book with a great mystery to solve I just think it would take to long to go through with a class that only has 30 mins. I will read this to my kids to see if they can figure out who ate the feast.
Sara Hollar
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This picture book was fabulous! You read the story and try to solve the mystery. There are clues everywhere among the incredible illustrations. There's a code to decipher at the end and we just had a fabulous time as a family solving the mystery! Highly recommend. ...more
Shaye Miller
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stunning artwork! I think I'll have to work on the mystery for a bit... ...more
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Graeme Rowland Base is a successful Australian author and artist of picture books that have been sold internationally. He is perhaps best known for his second book, Animalia published in 1986, and third book The Eleventh Hour which was released in 1989.
He was born in England but moved to Australia with his family at the age of eight and has lived there ever since. He attended Box Hill High School

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